Anémic Cinéma, the work shown in the SSE Atrium in October 2017, is Marcel Duchamp’s (1887-1968) only cinematic work and is now regarded as a classic of both dadaism and surrealism. Duchamp began early in his career to experiment with optical phenomena such as the effect of negative and positive shapes on our seeing. Duchamp is striving to dissolve both visual and linguistic rationality in his work. In this film, shot by his friend Man Ray, hypnotic graphic spiral patterns alternate with rotating, enigmatic texts, some of which are lewd puns in French. The animation effect was achieved by filming the artist’s Rotoreliefs on a gramophone turntable. Originally the rotating discs were intended to be marketed at a trade show, but in 1926 the market for Marcel Duchamp´s art was not yet ready.
Any understanding of contemporary art, required by professionals in most creative industries, necessitates a basic familiarity with Marcel Duchamp and his work. Not only are today’s ideas about art and artists deeply influenced by Duchamp´s clever enterprise of breaking cultural rules, habits and traditions of old time art, but his work also reoriented the authority of art to the spectator or onlooker. He made art become a matter of co-production in sense making. The job of the artist was to make spectators participate in making the artwork complete.
Moderna Museet has graciously granted permission to SSE Art Initiative to show classics from its art film collection of which Anémic Cinéma is the second to be screened.
Links to more Marcel Duchamp resources: